Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival, Harrogate 2018 – Preview

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Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival,
Harrogate 2018


by Sarah Morgan

“The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival is the best in the world – and I know because I’ve done all of them,” says best-selling author Lee Child, creator of Jack Reacher.

Readers of a certain age may remember a series of TV adverts in which a guy called Victor Kiam claimed he loved certain products so much, he bought the company. Well, there’s an element of that in this year’s event, which once again takes place in Harrogate at the Old Swan Hotel, where Agatha Christie hid away during her notorious disappearance in 1926.

That’s because Child (pictured below), so often a welcome visitor and participant, is taking control this time around; he’s the organising committee’s latest chairperson, and his name has certainly attracted some big stars – if not the biggest in the crime genre.

harrogate crime festival 2018 preview lee child


For decades, John Grisham’s books have regularly topped sales charts. Even if you’ve never read one, you’ll be familiar with their titles thanks to their film adaptations, including A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Client and The Pelican Brief. It’s something of a coup for Harrogate to have landed him; he’ll be headlining Friday’s timetable, chatting to Child himself about his career to date.

Although the event actually starts on Thursday with a series of workshops for wannabe writers, followed by the annual Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award ceremony, Friday is when the nitty gritty really starts, with talks by and conversations with a variety of authors.

Grisham may be the biggest name on the list in 2018, but there are plenty more luminaries around, not least Denise Mina, who gets the ball rolling at 9am. She’s marking her 20th year in the literary business, so should have plenty to say.

harrogate crime festival 2018 preview promo

“Light-hearted moments”

She’s followed by Americans Laura Lippman and Linwood Barclay, while Saturday sees husband-and-wife team Nicci French, Simon Mayo (who’s just written his first adult novel), SJ Parris, Don Winslow and festival stalwart Val McDermid taking part.

On Sunday, Steph McGovern chairs a debate about why cold climates seem to suit crime writing before Sophie Hannah rounds off the weekend.

But it’s not all seriousness and head-scratching. Among the talks are more light-hearted moments, including the Dead Good Readers Awards, a murder-mystery themed dinner, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid’s infamous late-night quiz and the Room 101 of Crime, in which Richard Osman (who is about to make his debut as a crime writer) and guests discuss some of the genre’s cliches and tropes that they hate.

So, if you’re a fan of murder most horrid, there’s only one place to be from July 19 to 22nd, and that’s Harrogate – a place of fine teas, cakes and less-than-genteel thrills.

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